My first Boxing Day experience working as an attendant at the City’s recycling depots was a memorable one. I remember how the bins were overflowing with cardboard, boxes and paper and it seemed that there was at least twice as much material as usual. It turns out I was pretty close in my estimation, and not only when it comes to recycling.
In 2012, the volume of garbage and recyclables collected during the two weeks after Dec. 25 was 12,793 tonnes, compared to 5,666 tonnes two weeks before. With recycling alone, the City collected almost 3,000 tonnes of material. While this number shows the enthusiastic voluntary participation of Edmontonians in our recycling programs, it still means that waste doubles during the holiday season.
There are several things we can do during the Holidays to help reduce the amount of waste produced. This can be as simple as giving experiences as gifts, planning for leftovers, wrapping gifts with reusable materials and decorating for lasting memories. I personally enjoy a family soup recipe that uses turkey bones and leftover vegetables.
The prize? A family pass to a City recreation facility and the Muttart Conservatory—a great waste-free gift for the Holidays! Entries must be submitted before midnight MDT on Thursday, December 19, 2013. Check our full contest rules and regulations.
When it is time to clean up from the Holidays, it is important to not let a bit of excessive garbage or recycling overwhelm you. Check our What Goes Where Poster and Holiday Recycling page for details on how to sort your waste. Items like Christmas lights and large decorations can cause problems at the recycling sorting facility. Watch this video to see where your recycling goes, and why it is important to ‘know before you throw’.
Waste-Less Holidays tips:
Start a tradition of making your own edible ornaments. Spend quality time with your family to make gingerbread ornaments and popcorn and cranberry garlands while listening to Christmas music. Waste is nearly nil when you eat your ornaments before taking down your Christmas tree.
Buy second-hand. I bought a few trucks at a garage sale this summer and stashed them away for our toddler for Christmas.
Set up a craft table for kids during holiday events or parties. The crafts can be made from items found at the Reuse Centre.
I have been saving my mandarin orange boxes to use as containers. This Christmas I am going to have my kids paint them instead of using wrapping paper and put gifts inside them. It reuses the boxes as well as reduces the wrapping paper I use.
During the Holidays, I try and reduce waste by crocheting items for my loved ones instead of buying gifts that include pesky packaging. I also use re-usable gift bags and colourful gift boxes instead of wrapping paper.
Happy Holidays―and remember the three Rs―Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!
Myles has worked with Waste Management Services for a number of years, starting as a recycling depot attendant and then moving through community relations to a marketing coordinator position. He is currently taking on the challenges of reducing Edmonton's waste and the safety risks for our collectors. Myles has a passion for understanding the details of Edmonton's waste and never turns down an opportunity to get a closer look at our garbage or chat about recycling.